The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers have to bring in an experienced offensive line coach.
Explanation: Paired with the report that Matt Canada will be promoted as a novice NFL offensive coordinator, the Steelers have to work on improving their offensive line, which has slipped over the past two years since Mike Munchak left, announcing that Shaun Sarrett’s contract would not be renewed. A longtime assistant, he got two years running the group, but his performance was deemed inadequate.
For whatever reason, the offensive line is not a position that generally seems to respond well to inexperience. You can get away with inexperience when you have innovation in other areas, but there isn’t a lot of innovation to be had when it comes to blocking.
While it’s unfair to compare Sarrett to Munchak, who was widely regarded as among the best in the business before even coming to Pittsburgh, you can just see the differences in performance.
Add in the fact that Canada has only been in the NFL for one year and James Daniel, their most experienced coach, just retired, and you’re looking at quite a novice coaching staff. Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner has only been in the NFL for a couple of years as well. You need some NFL experience around this group on offense.
I won’t pretend that I have a list of names here, but I’m not going to automatically assume that the most qualified offensive line coach available is a seasoned veteran. If they can find a really good coach who is still cutting his teeth or whom they cull from the college ranks, so be it.
Why? Because the other issues are not the priority here. The priority as it pertains to the offensive line is getting it back on the right track. If you want to address inexperience around the offensive coaching staff, hire a veteran tight ends coach or quarterbacks coach. Hire a senior offensive assistant to match Teryl Austin’s role. Hell, bring in somebody can call him assistant head coach.